'Closer and closer' to a new deal for Walcott

LONDON • Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Theo Walcott is close to signing a new contract at Arsenal, with the England forward continuing to impress during pre-season after scoring the winner against Wolfsburg on Sunday.

The English Premier League football club go into Sunday's Community Shield match against Chelsea on the back of successive pre-season victories. They secured a 1-0 triumph in the Emirates Cup against Wolfsburg after easing past Lyon 6-0 last Saturday.

Walcott scored the only goal of the game against the German Bundesliga runners-up, finishing past Diego Benaglio five minutes into the second half following excellent work from French youngster Jeff Reine-Adelaide.

Walcott agreed a £90,000 (S$191,000) weekly deal 18 months ago after a protracted period of negotiation.

Arsenal appear set to avoid a similar saga by offering the 26-year-old an increased wage.

Asked if he had signed new terms, Wenger said: "Not yet.

"But we are getting closer and closer and, hopefully, we can finalise it very soon.

"I've always said he's a goalscorer because he has the movement, he has the timing of the finishing, the speed; he has an eye for taking his chances at the right moment.

"When he gets in these positions, he can finish well.

"Yesterday, when he came on, he nearly scored; today, he scored.

"That shows he will score goals."

Petr Cech made his first appearance at the Emirates Stadium in an Arsenal shirt, with the goalkeeper's every touch cheered enthusiastically by the 59,815-strong crowd.

There were even Czech Republic flags waved to celebrate his arrival this summer from bitter rivals Chelsea for £10 million .

It was another player, though, who caught the eye.

Reine-Adelaide, the teenager signed from Lens, showed strength, awareness and precision to set up Walcott for the goal.

Wenger said the player would not be loaned out in the season ahead.

"Yes, definitely here," said the French manager.

"He's 17 and looks very promising but needs to work with us now for another year with the first team.

"There's fantastic potential there but he will stay with us."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline ''Closer and closer' to a new deal for Walcott'. Print Edition | Subscribe